As another school year draws to a close and children look forward to the summer holidays, it’s time for teachers to reflect on the months that have passed and all they have achieved.
With this in mind, we asked Shanghai teachers to tell us a story about a standout moment from their year that left them inspired. Whether it was witnessing pure acts of kindness, embracing technology for higher efficiency, developing students into confident writers or taking a step back to see how far the class had matured, Shanghai teachers have spent the year learning themselves.
What a memorable way to finish off the year – a reminder that their dedication and passion has resulted in their students possessing a desire to excel, and that all who enter a classroom can learn and grow.
So, let's take a look at what left a lasting impression on the teachers of Shanghai this year. Starting from Phil Whitaker, who is the Head of Computer Science at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong.
One of the more significant lessons I have recently learned, is that as teachers, perhaps we are still too reliant on paper for our teaching. Being well and truly in the 21st century, this fact did not sit well with me. Why are we still so dependent on the photocopier and student workbooks? The rate of 'digitization' seems to be increasing exponentially. For example, when in our personal lives have we recently had to print anything that wasn't a photo or a form?
With this in mind, I set out determined to fully embrace the digital technology available to make going paper-free a reality. I decided that to be truly successful, I would need to adopt an all-ornothing approach. Selecting the right platform for going completely paper-free was not an easy task. Google Classroom has its merits, but it is not available in China. After much deliberation, I decided to put my faith in Microsoft and pay out for their OneNote platform. Of course, I had many reservations. I was going for an overnight transformation with 16 classes, and I needed a system that was going to work.
It has been some time now since I first committed to going paper-free, and I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by Microsoft's offering. Students have responded exceptionally well to the change, and for most, it is now their preferred method for receiving and completing lesson content. Written feedback can be provided in the same way as the 'old' workbooks, using digital ink. Add to this the ability to leave verbal feedback via the click of a button, virtual stickers and a range of glitter pen options (a firm student favorite), and you have a powerful medium through which to engage with your learners. There is an evergrowing number of features offered by online classrooms, which are amazing. I believe adapting to this workflow has been more about changing mindsets than adapting to the technology.
Phil Whitaker is the Head of Computer Science at Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong. He was born and raised in New Zealand with his formal education completed in England. He has taught computer science in the UK and internationally for over 15 years.